Nearly five million Americans were exposed to the attractions of Auckland as a visitor destination this weekend when
the United States' most influential newspaper, the New York Times, ran a huge feature in its Sunday travel edition.
Worth nearly $NZ130,000 in equivalent advertising, the article was a glowing report on Auckland, describing it as "a
relaxed, friendly, good-value interlude from the more vigorous vacation activities in New Zealand's mountains, fjords,
white-water streams and bungee-jumping perches."
The piece follows a visit to Auckland by New York Times correspondent John Shaw who was assisted during his stay by the
New Zealand Media Resource Unit, a joint partnership run by the Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Auckland.
MRU Director, Jodie Pasgaard, says Mr Shaw was extremely enthusiastic about his time in New Zealand after being hosted
voluntarily by no less than four "media ambassadors" arranged by the MRU including fashion designer Karen Walker and
master of wine Michael Brakjovich.
The MRU's media ambassador programme was set up before APEC to provide visiting international media with a 100% Pure
New Zealand experience. Mr Shaw later wrote to the MRU saying "your unit is a very impressive operation, the best of its
kind I've encountered."
The Media Resource Unit has only been operating for a year and in that time has assisted more than 1000 visiting
journalists with inquiries, story angles, travel itineraries, equipment requests and general media liaison. It has
helped to generate, conservatively, more than $1million worth of publicity for New Zealand.
"Without a doubt the MRU and its media ambassador programme has become one of the most successful tools the New Zealand
tourism industry has ever had," says Ms Pasgaard.